Little Grey Rabbit's Historical Skepticism Blog

The Weaving Mill of Birkenau: Converted to Krema IV and V

Posted in Auschwitz, Essential Postings by littlegreyrabbit on January 15, 2011

Prominent amongst oral testimonies from Birkenau in 1944, particularly of Hungarian Jews, is the role of the Weaving Mill or Weberei of Birkenau in camp employment.  Although the literature tends to be vague as to where the Weberei was actually located, inmates employed there seemed, according to extensive oral testimony, mostly to spend their time producing fuses for armaments out of old rags. Locations suggested in the literature the Weberei range from BIII to the Familienlager Theresienstadt sector BIIb, to BIIc. No Weberei building exists in any of the available lists of building projects for Birkenau (which all mention BW 30, BW 30a, BW 30b, BW 30c – allegedly the codes for the various crematoria). Yet according to the documents of the Frankfurt trial a DAW Weberei opened in March 1943[1].  Coincidently or not, March 1943 more or less the date that Krema IV is supposed to have been finished. From the wealth of oral testimony and camp employment lists we know a Weberei was in Birkenau. My suggestion will be the Weberei was one or both of the building sites we today know as Krema IV and V, that is next to the Effeketen lager – a convenient source of textiles.

Birkenau (Auschwitz II) employment for October 3 1944

Above is Arbeiteinsatz (Work team employment) listing for October 3 1944, detailing numbers of workers, the work team, shift and location for that day.  The DAW Flecterei-Weberei is shown as employing 220 workers on October 1944 and the location is described as Lager (ie in Birkenau camp, when a work team is outside camp or in Auschwitz I, the description is so entered in the relevant column).  There is also an entry for LW Zerlegebetriebe Ost (this was involved in dismantling and recycling metal and parts from downed aircraft), employing 2 shifts of 1350 workers; this was located just outside Lager Birkenau in a courtyard near the railway line.  In interests of transparency I should point out this document continues for 3 pages and the final pages includes listing for workers in 4 crematoria.  However no documentation is ever released by the Auschwitz Museum that does not have a not particularly well hidden didactic message (in this case it is the Sonderkommando revolt, in the case of the other list released of August 1944, it is the liquidation of the Gypsy camp).

To return to the Weberei, one testimony, that of memoirist Halina Birenbaum,  appears to be inconsistent with any known building except the Sauna, the Effekten Lager or Krema IV or V:

The Weberei labor gang worked in a barracks that was a long way outside the camp. On our way there twice daily we passed a ramp and people being herded out of the boxcars. The road to the Weberei ran close to the crematorium and a small wood, where corpses were burned en masse, in heaps, in ditches, when the crematorium could not keep up with the great number of transports. The stench of burning bones was even stronger here than in the camp.

In the Weberei we worked at tables. We wove upholstery for tanks from scraps of various rags, clippings, bits of cloth. We worked fast, tensely, for the Nazis set very high work norms. We were punished terribly for not fulfilling the norm. To make matters worse, we did not receive enough raw material. Several times a day they threw a heap of rags on the hut floor; dozens of women snatched them from each other, to ensure achieving the norm and not being beaten….The Storm Troopers watched, grinning with satisfaction. [2]

This is inconsistent with a location in BIII or BIIb or BIIc, but you would by walking the road between Krema II and III, pass through a small wood and then come to the Sauna and the buildings beyond.

The first objection that would be raised is that these buildings have large crematorium-like chimneys, surely these aren’t a feature of a Weberei?  Here are three photos that show “Krema IV” that show these chimneys, from construction phase to completion:

1st building photo of Krema IV

All photos are taken from very close to the same angle, as can be seen by the distinctive tree in the fore-ground, right.

2nd building photo of Krema IV (with bonus leprechauns).

The 2nd building photo is from the most divergent angle, on the plus side it does seem to contain some bonus leprechauns – little mannikins that appear in some of the Bau-Album, which seem out of all proportion to the building they are constructing (see red circle).  Photos one and three (below) are taken from virtually identical angle.

Completed building photo of Krema IV

There is also some very peculiar discrepancies in the number and shape of the windows between these 3 photos on the building face on the right hand side of the image.  The last image (I would suggest largely genuine) has 3 large windoes and two smaller ones on the wall facing us, the first image (largely drawn) has 3 large windows in different alignment and one small window, the 2nd photo seems intermediate between the two.  I would suggest that photo 1 was produced first and then photo 3, then the discrepancies in windows was noticed and photo 2 was constructed to create a narrative bridge between the two.

I have taken the portions containing the chimneys from the 3 images and aligned them with vertical red lines.  I would suggest particularly for photos 1 and 3, there are enormous deviations in the angle, size and shape of these chimneys – deviations that a solid brick structure would not demonstrate in real life.  I encourage the reader to train their eyes of the original photos themselves rather than my composite and draw their own conclusions.

Composite chimneys

At this point the reader is invited to read Dr Harry Farid’s excellent internet resource on photo fabrication through the ages.  The type of photo fabrication which is indicated by both the chimneys and the window arrangement variations is not just technically possible, it was common practice in regimes like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  Even just eyeballing the third and most genuine looking photo shows some reasonably obvious unusually less than centered alignments.  It is certainly consistent with a genuine photo of a building with large chimneys added to the image later.

That then is the Bau-Album photos, but all pieces of evidence must point to the same conclusion.  We can identify the following other pieces of evidence that will need to converge: 1. aerial photos, 2, liberation photos and film, 3. blueprints, 4. current state of the ruins.  The aerial reconnaissence photos I will leave to the reader to investigate themselves, I find it inconclusive, there does appear to be much smaller chimneys (such as from a normal fireplace) present, the presence of two heating stove in these locations is also indicated in liberation photos.  It is possible that the presence of these stoves was the “initial condition” that lead the Soviets to construct their narrative around the very peculiar engineering design of a single 8 muffle oven, with two giant chimneys.

There is a lot of liberation photos and footage that will be posted at a later date.   At the moment I will just concentrate on this one, the earliest liberation photo available for Krema V.

Earliest liberation photo of Krema V

The source it was taken from gives the following description:

Photo 19 [PMO neg. no. 4797]

Photo taken at the end of January 1945 looking southeast from a temporary watchtower (visible on Photos 21 and 23) over the shapeless ruin, of Krematorium V as they were left by the SS and found by the Russians. There is a light covering of snow. In the foreground is a stack of logs, fuelwood for “normal” cremations Work on clearing the ruins was to begin shortly after this picture was taken.

In short we are looking  over the exact area at the end of Krema V where the two chimneys were supposed to have been located.  When the buildings were blown-up one would imagine such structures would sprawl conspicuously on top of the ruins.  There is nothing that can be identified here as the remains of two very large smoke stacks.  There is a lot of other footage and stills, particularly of clearing the rubble away, that it is relevant.  It will be introduced at a later date on a related topic.  Suffice to say, nowhere are two large smokestacks identifiable or the significant bases or remnants of these structures.

Finally we come to blueprints and the current state of the ruins.  A detailed plan of these alleged chimneys is available:

Static Calculations for Krema IV chimney

Original source and discussion can be found here

It is described as the static calculations for the chimney of Krema IV.  Birkenau was a particularly marshy location and these are very large and solid chimneys, it would not be unreasonable for there to be impressive foundations.  According to this blueprint so there were; the shaft of the smokestack extends its hollow shaft down 1.07 meters below the surface of the floor (Fussboden), then there is a further solid platform base of a further 1 meter deep with an area of 3.2 meters by 3.2.  In short, these chimneys, according to this blueprint, are supposed to have extended 2 meters below the level of the floor.  This is a very considerable structure.

Krema IV and V ruins exist in different states today.  Krema IV has been entirely evacuated around the chimney base area and consists of a dirt depression around 20 cms below the level of the concrete floor.  It is hypothetically possible, although rather implausible, that the 2 metre base could have been dug out and removed entirely and the hole 90% refilled with soil.  Krema V is still intact, my quick and amateur evacuations around the the chimney base showed absolutely no sign of the 1 meter deep smokestack shaft, nor any sign of a large subsurface structure going down 2 metres deep.

It might be suggested that I don’t have x-ray vision.  I would suggest in response, that the absolute non-existence of this subsurface structure could be easily proved using non-destructive, remote sensing technology.  This will not happen because our understanding of the history of Birkenau and the role of its various buildings are not a reflection of historical reality, rather a reflection of power relations in modern society.

The present day authorities at Auschwitz will be well aware that such an independent examination would fail to find the structure indicated in the above blueprint and so would never allow it.  I believe my assertion that the function of these two buildings (without giant smokestacks) may have included a weaving mill or Weberei.


[1][”Im März 1943 eröffneten die Deutschen Ausrüstungswerke auf dem Gelände von Auschwitz eine Webwerkstatt (DAW-Weberei)”
Zur Geschichte des Lagers: Außerhalb der Verwaltungsstruktur des Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslagers Auschwitz-Birkenau bestehende Stellen und Institutione. Der 1. Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess, S. 343

[2] Halina Birenbaum “Hope is the Last to Die“, page 133-134






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